AP's first No-Confidence Motion
A report on the first no-confidence motion in the Andhra State Assembly in December 1964 that was published in the Economic Weekly dated December 12,...
A report on the first no-confidence motion in the Andhra State Assembly in December 1964 that was published in the Economic Weekly dated December 12, 1964
For the first time since Andhra Pradesh came into being the Government had to face a no-confidence motion in the State Assembly in December 1964. The act was more symbolic than real since the overwhelming majority that the Congress has showed absolutely no fissures as far as meeting the opposition challenge was concerned. Indeed as the Chief Minister, Kasu Brahmananda Reddy was not slow in pointing out, it was the opposition which was hopelessly heterogeneous and spoke with very many voices. Still, the fact of the first no-confidence motion was itself noteworthy and reflected a certain confidence of the opposition that such a challenge to the ministry would be popular and could even be a galvanizer. Congress Ruffled The CPI being the officially recognised opposition party, its leader Pillalamarri Venkateswarlu led the attack with a blistering survey of almost all departments of Government activity. His comparatively aggressive stance was undoubtedly, partly at any rate, the result of the very successful State conference that his party had concluded at Guntur only a bare ten days ago. With the feeling of having successfully passed through an ordeal, the CPI leader was in unusually good form. He did touch on policy issues, especially the food situation in this surplus State with its rich capitalist landlords of the Delta districts. But policy problems do not seem to be able to prickle the Congress Ministry here. What did somewhat ruffle the composure of the Treasury Benches was the reference to the pettier problems of promotions, of favour to relatives and faction followers, of corruption and of the sanction of only such schemes as fall in the various strongholds of the different ministers. Indeed, the State had been agog with rumour that the house of the Food and Agriculture Minister had been raided just prior to the debate and a good hoard of black money had been recovered. It turned out, of course, to be only a rumour but the fact that it was so readily and widely believed has a reason and considerable significance. The reason was his extraordinary action some months ago of raising quite considerably the price of various varieties of rice above those publicly announced by a District Collector only a week before the minister's personal intervention. Naturally suspicions were aroused that somebody somewhere � not enemies of the minister, to say the least !�was going to benefit. Trade Well Organised A revealing feature of the Andhra situation that came out prominently in the debate was the existence of powerfully organised syndicates of wholesale traders in the different surplus districts. Sometimes the impression is created that even at the wholesale level the food grains trade is so dispersed and spread over so many individuals that any monopoly action on the part of the State would mean such a sudden contraction and concentration that the channels would get blocked and there would be a breakdown. Now it appears that the wholesalers in each district are pretty tightly organised in syndicates which fix prices, parcel out shares and manage the sale to other districts where also similar syndicates exist. The links between syndicates of different districts are quite strong, though the element of sharp conflict is also present. What this means is that the State Food Corporation is going to face pretty stiff competition when it enters the market and it also means that if the socialism of the Government is at all real it could go in for nationalisation of an already existing network and put the entire machine to work to give reasonable prices to the producers and food at fair prices to the consumer. Certainly, the Andhra Government showed no signs of doing anything in this direction.A Another noteworthy point was the stand taken by the Left Communists. Some of them, particularly T Nagi Reddy, made exceptionally effective speeches and quite nettled the Ministry. But their leader, P Sundarayya, took a different line�one which he had worked out quite some time ago even when Pandit Nehru was alive. His contention is that the real enemy of the Indian revolution is to be found in New Delhi alone. The allies in the fight against this enemy are to be found even among the State Congress leaders. Therefore, speaking on the no-confidence motion he attributed the chief ills of Andhra to the Union Government and eluded Brahmananda Reddy for not building an effective lobby to browbeat the Central Cabinet and get more for the Telugu lands. He went even further and with the help of statistics tried to demonstrate that Andhra was far from being a surplus State in food grains and that it was absurd for the Congress Ministry here to send aid to other States at the expense of starving its own people. The Swatantra spokesmen were distinctly uncomfortable to find themselves in such revolutionary company but they made the best of a bad bargain and with straight faces told this entirely pro-free-enterprise Ministry that all those wretched regulations were holding up a regular flow of food supplies. It was even more amazing to find them railing against licences and the like since everybody knows their own proclivities in this direction. Offers to Resign! The Congress big guns began their reply by a parade of innocence. They offered to resign if a judicial probe found them guilty of any of the charges of corruption advanced by eminent opposition personalities but demanded that these persons should also be prepared to resign if their charges were not corroborated. One opposition leader, Vavilala Gopalkrishnaiah, has since accepted the challenge provided that the judicial probe is conducted by a Supreme Court judge. There has been no response to date from the ministers concerned. But it was the Chief Minister who was in the jolliest and most flippant of moods. One reason was the fact that nobody had levelled any charges against him. While the chief contender for his post, A C Subba Reddy, figured very prominently indeed in the accusations which were freely hurled about. He ridiculed all the parties of the opposition as being one or another kind of useless railway train running on one or another of wrong rails, while the overcrowded Congress Janata express pulled along to its destination, albeit a little late. The only policy announcement he made concerned the division of the State into three zones and the categorical refusal to extend rationing to the capital or anywhere else, thus belying the overcharged suspicions and fears of his Swatantra critics. No other point of policy bothered him at all. He went so far as to deny the utility of consulting any opposition parties, not only because they might offer contradictory advice, but also because the Congress was itself the real representative of the people and knew exactly how they felt and what they wanted, All this was, of course, in the best debating style and it was quite amazing to see the opposition benches take all this drubbing without a murmur, like a collection of well-behaved school children listening to an admonishing headmaster. But one felt distinctly uneasy about such a brazen display of complacency in a situation which is far from easy and admitting of repose. It may be true enough that the opposition can right now offer no challenge and that the shooting food prices pleases greatly the powerful rural rich in this most rural of States. But mere human compassion would have given the Congress leaders and ministers some troubled consciences. The poor and the middle strata are now experiencing difficulties such as they have never known since freedom. Not only is food expensive but to get it one has to face so much harassment and humiliation as to produce a defeating type of angry despair which could, soon enough, be pretty dangerous. Till that time the Congress Ministry can continue to laugh at its own capers.
16 Feb 2020 10:25 PM GMT